May Your Legacy Give Glory to God
Written by Jason Staas. Originally published in Family Foundations in 2022.
Considering the lives of the Saints, it is easy to get caught up in the legacy of their thoughts, words, and deeds. For example, the heroic act of virtue of St. Gianna Molla in choosing the life of her daughter over her own, or the thousands of the poor from Turino that gave testimony to the charitable deeds of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati at his funeral; these are thoughts of legacies that give glory to God. Legacy is what remains after we are gone.
Part of the idea of legacy includes a plan for what to do with our wealth when we are gone. This is called legacy giving. We can’t take it with us, but we can use this legacy giving to give glory to God as well. My team and I are observing that many people are unprepared when it comes to considering legacy giving in this way. There are many contributing factors that seem to be influencing this situation, but these factors usually do not include a lack of intention.
Most people want to leave a great legacy. Many are already giving – often very generously. But let’s face it: the topic of legacy giving can often be overwhelming and stressful. And because of the stress, legacy giving tactics can easily become uncoordinated and lack a clear strategy. There are so many ways to leave a legacy gift. With abundant options and competing interests, how are people supposed to make heads from tails? Likewise, with all the different strategies and the planning considerations, are there ways to address this topic that are easy to understand?
When it comes to questions about legacy giving, my team and I are observing that many people are finding success by embracing four steps that help focus on giving glory to God, making legacy giving a source of peace and joy.
God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
Thinking and planning for leaving a legacy is a great opportunity to get in touch with what matters most to a family or an individual. Many families and individuals begin their process of thinking about legacy giving by taking inventory of the guiding principles that have formed their unique identity. What makes your family unique? What makes you unique? Which people and which institutions have played a key role in shaping those values? Are there any common threads that are identifiable? Asking and answering these types of questions should be fun. This is an opportunity to give thanks and celebrate the handiwork of God. That’s because God was the one working through others to form the irreplaceable values and identity that you have come to know and cherish.
Let your yes be yes, and no be no (Matthew 5:37)
Once a clearly defined set of values have been discerned through the previous step, many families and individuals are finding it easier to use these as guiding principles to steer their legacy giving through time. With these guiding principles in place, discerning who or what is included or not included in a legacy gift becomes very clear. For example, many have incorporated mechanisms in their plan to ensure that if an organization no longer behaves in a way that is consistent with a legacy plan’s values, planned gifts can be restricted over time. These types of safeguards can protect a legacy from being scandalized or contradicting the values that were central to the family or individual.
Ask, and it will be given to you (Luke 11:5-13)
Once the values and guiding principles for a legacy are in place, many families and individuals are turning to financial, legal, and tax professionals to ensure their plan is coordinated and designed to stand the test of time. Legacy giving is not a weekend DIY project. There are considerations here that often need professional support. Likewise, many have discovered that when a legacy has been clearly envisioned, the skilled contributions of professionals can help add detail and safeguards to enhance the unity and the beauty of the plan, giving further glory to God.
Don’t start what you can’t finish (Luke 14:28)
Once a personalized and professionally developed plan is in place, many families and individuals find that following through on the plan flows in such a way that promotes peace and a sense of joy throughout the family. The intentionality of the plan likewise serves as a beacon to later generations of what it means to be a member of the family and continues to fortify that identity over time. In this way, the legacy of a family or individual is perpetuated in a way that continues to witness to God’s glory in thought, word, and deed.
Jason Staas is a Nationally awarded financial professional in the USA and a pilot member of MDRT Global Services. Jason’s work in financial services has been characterized by fast traction, visionary leadership, and record-setting growth. Jason has been married to his wife Miranda for 15 years, and they are expecting their 10th child in February of 2023.